Chilean President to Visit Israel and Palestinian Authority Next Week

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Pinera shakes hands with Netanyahu on his first diplomatic visit to Israel, March 6, 2011.
Pinera shakes hands with Netanyahu on his first diplomatic visit to Israel, March 6, 2011.Credit: REUTERS

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera will arrive in the Middle East next week for a three-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority en route to the G-20 summit in Japan.

During his visit, Pinera is expected to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as with other senior Israeli and Palestinian officials.

Pinera will be accompanied by several Chilean legislators as well as leaders of the country’s Jewish and Palestinian communities. The Palestinian community in Chile is considered the largest in the world outside of the Middle East.

>> Read more: Meet the Chilestinians, the largest Palestinian community outside the Middle East

Pinera visited Israel and the PA during his first term in 2011, and was the first sitting Chilean president to do so. After he was elected to a second term last year, he decided to make another visit following his January meeting with Netanyahu in Brazil during the inauguration of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

Pinera decided to take advantage of his trip to Osaka for the G-20 meeting later this month to make a series of diplomatic visits. He will be coming to Israel from Spain.

According to reports in the Chilean media, Pinero’s visit to the PA will include a stop in Bethlehem and at the Al-Amari refugee camp outside Ramallah, which is operated by UNRWA. In Israel he is expected to visit a desalination plant, a space research center and Hadassah medical center, where he will focus on a digital health project that Netanyahu has been promoting in recent years during diplomatic meetings.

Pinero has visited the Western Wall and will apparently visit Israel's Holocaust museum Yad Vashem, as is customary, and will plant a tree at the Grove of Nations in Jerusalem. He may also visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Mount of Olives and other Christian sites.

In November, the Chilean congress approved a resolution calling on the government to act to boycott settlements in any future agreement with Israel and to reexamine past agreements to make sure they relate solely to areas within the Green Line. The resolution includes a clause that requires the Chilean Foreign Service to ensure that all agreements in the future also relate only to those borders. The resolution was passed by a vote of 99-7, with 30 abstentions.

It was also decided to distribute guidelines to Chilean citizens visiting or doing business in Israel to understand the historical context of the place, “and not to support colonization or to cooperate with human rights violations in the occupied territories.” The resolution also calls for a “mechanism” to block the import of settlement products.

The resolution recognizes a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. Chile has recognized a Palestinian state in the past, and its Foreign Ministry is considering whether to turn the approved resolution into legislation.

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